Human Rights Council 48th session
Annual discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms
Statement by Action Canada for Population and Development
Thank you, Madame President.
Action Canada makes this statement also on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.
For some of us, COVID-19 has meant pivoting to online means of organizing, working, as well as accessing health services and education. For others, pivoting was not possible because of poor internet connectivity,, high data costs, no access to digital devices and a paucity of time due to additional caring responsibilities. We would also note that this panel does not have accessibility measures for people with disabilities which only contributes to the gender digital divide.
So while we are here today under the auspices of talking about the gender digital divide in times of COVID, what we are actually talking about is existing gender inequalities in all its manifestations for which the pandemic has only magnified. We are actually talking about how women and girls are more likely to be poor, to shoulder the burden of unpaid caring labour and how our health, needs and human rights are an afterthought in policy responses to crises. This was the case before the pandemic and is likely to be the case afterwards unless we collectively decide to do things differently.
This is not a matter of giving phones to girls or delivering comprehensive sexuality education via zoom. These are individual solutions to individual problems that will never address the systemic failures that result in the oppression of women and girls based on gender, race, class, disability, age and more.
This is the moment to radically reimagine our systems and institutions so that they serve the people. The pandemic has shown that when states choose to, they can act swiftly to implement policies and spend resources that would have been unthinkable two years ago. At the Human Rights Council, we must recognize this moment for what it is -a chance to breathe new and transformative life into the human rights system and everything that it is supposed to stand for.